With plans to introduce its iGrill device at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas, iDevices Inc. of Canton, Conn., has engineered a startling breakthrough for those millions of cooks and foodies all over the world who have dreamed in vain, all these years, for some way to develop a meaningful dialog with their most beautiful culinary creations, from standing rib roasts to succulent racks of lamb.
It was rock 'n' roll legend Frank Zappa who first posed the possibility that humans might somehow carry on conversations with their food when he wrote the classic anthem, "Call Any Vegetable."
This poetic milestone in the delicate interface between people and produce included the lines, "Call any vegetable,/ Call it by name,/ And the chances are good/ That a vegetable will respond to you."
Today, thanks to iDevices, an undercooked vegetable, from deep within the oven, or a prime rib, even a 20-pound roast turkey, will not merely respond to a chef equipped with the iGrill wireless cooking thermometer for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.
It will respond accurately and meaningfully. Moreover, thanks to its long-range Bluetooth capability, iGrill can enable this man/meat conversation over distances as far as 200 feet. A chef will be able to effectively cross-examine his or her pork tenderloin while watering the lawn, playing fetch with the family dog, or changing the baby's diaper.
Honest! This is a remote-control app, proudly announced by the PR folks at iDevices, for communicating with hot meat and tuna casseroles! I'm not making this up.
Besides the sheer efficiency of checking temperature and doneness in food items that range from deep-fried catfish to legs of mutton, the iGrill opens new vistas in human relationships with the edibles that nourish and sustain us, transforming them from mere lumps of flesh to friends sacrificing themselves that we may live and grow.
To be introduced at CES (booth No. 4435), iGrill turns your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into your own personal sous-chef, enabling you to multitask between your grill or oven and guests with the peace of mind that your food is perfectly cooked, at target temperature and safe for consumption.
The first Bluetooth and App enabled device on the market today, iGrill consists of:
• iGrill Thermometer with Projection Display and Probe –
features easy-to-clean touch interface and multiple probe options.
• iGrill App for iPod, iPhone, & iPad - tells you status of
food via Bluetooth.
Spend time socializing instead of cooking—never burn your turkey again!
Besides bringing people closer than ever to their food and its deepest feelings, iGrill also promises to re-define the way people socialize among themselves. No longer will interesting conversations end up aborted by meat-temperature anxieties or the nagging fear of overdone Brussels sprouts! iGrill takes the labor-intensity out of meal preparation and offers back the second most valuable commodity of all: Time! Its secure, long-range Bluetooth connection lets you enjoy time with family and friends without compromising the quality of your cuisine!
And, of course, the most valuable commodity of all is love. And as much as you loved your roasts and meatloafs before, thanks to iGrill, you'll love them all the more after talking to them personally and hearing them answer—just before to cut them open and devour them.
David Benjamin is a novelist and humorist, who writes occasionally about technology for EE Times, usually from the Luddite point of view.
Remote sensing thermometers have been available for quite some time. Cook your meat while watching the football game...
which sells for around $30. The gimick is that it can be read from your ipod/touch/pad...
In Arthur C Clarke's 3001 he referred to a device called the "Autochef" which produced food on demand, suitably nutritionally balanced for the user. Maybe the iGrill is just a step towards this.
It's not too much of a stretch of imagination to envisage buying your meat with a sensor implanted in it (something like an RFID chip) and you just pop it in your (suitably enabled) oven and dial up how you want it done, and the oven will switch off and tell you when your rare beef roast is done just how you like it. (I'd go for that, I never get it as rare as I'd like... I should patent this....)
And let's face it - they are putting microcontrollers in even the humble toothbrush these days. So is there anything which won't have one in eventually?
Years ago, who would have thought that you could build an electronic music device small and inexpensive enough to put into a greeting card. Now, you can buy cards just about anywhere that play music when opened.
What does that have to do with this article? Well, the iGrill may be just the first step. It won't be long before those little metal pop-up things that tell you when your turkey is done can be replaced by a little wireless temperature sensor. How long before the whole sensor, power and transmitter cost a buck or less?
The turkey factories could insert them during manufacture, just like they do with the pop-ups we have now. Certainly, if you could do that, it wouldn't be a stretch to see the same little sensors sold to consumers to plug into roasts or other foods as well.
In terms of whether this is a solution waiting for a problem, I don't see it as such. Salmonella doesn't seem to be as common these days as it was a few years ago, but such a device could help to further reduce that ailment, while at the same time, giving cooks more control over the cooking process.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the useful and the silly. The epitome was the Internet-enabled toaster, which put a browser on the front of the device. In that form it was silly, but turn it into a device which uses connectivity to report its status (not too different from this) and it might make sense.
I agree with Mark on this point. In recent times, people have moved so far away from the concept of simplicity. As history will tell you, more often than not it is the simplest engineering solution that will stand the test of time. Why all this sophisticated complications when a simple timer+alarm can get the job done?
Engineering is not for recreation. I am a believer that engineering must serve a purpose for the society at large. Other than being a recreative/fun activity for the engineering team that had designed this jinx, I do not see the society benefiting from such product. There are far more severe and acutely felt human problems out there that engineers ought to spend their creative hours on.
I think this is another brilliant example of expanding a single platform (iPhone) to solve many problems. I believe this is the basis of the viral success of iPhone apps: they solve a wide range of problems with a familiar interface. While some solutions, such as iGrill, require a supplementary hardware sensor, many others (for example the digital level, flashlight, and checking the ink level on my HP inkjet printer) are entirely enabled by the components already within the iPhone. The essential point is that the number of interfaces to carry and learn is reduced to a single handheld device.
Well nearly. In a comment on something else some time ago, I described an electric fence unit I made for a friend...old valve radio transformer back to front, charged a cap to 100V on one half cycle and fired it thru a thyristor to a car ignition coil with the filament winding on the other half cycle. What has this to do with Frank Zappa? Well my friend's name was Frank, so we called it Frank's Zapper....
This seems like another high tech solution to a low tech problem. Another in a long line of high tech temperature measurement devices to help cook food. What about a simple timer/alarm that is already available on the iPhone and similar gadgets. The timer tells you when to check the food and a low-tech thermometer or other visual or tactile test will tell you if the food is done. Does anyone else think this is a solution looking for a problem?
I agree with prabhakar_deosthali over there. These concepts of ubiquitous computing are more of value in demanding situations where differently-abled and mature demographics are concerned rather than as mere leisurely addendums to our already luxurious lifestyles. When reduced to practise in these much needed application areas these technologies will considerably improve the living standards of a larger number of suffering human beings in the planet.
It is rather funny that many i*** type of products find market success when much much more utilitarian (and humanitarian) type of products fail miserably in the market.
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